Jim Douglass (Gregory Peck) has been relentlessly pursuing the four outlaws who murdered his wife, but finds them in jail about to be hanged. While he waits to witness their execution, they escape; and the townspeople enlist Douglas' aid to recapture them.Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
Henry King, who directed this picture, had a long and distinguished career that lasted from 1915 from 1962. He directed perhaps as many classic movies as anyone, from TOL'ABLE David (1920) through TENDER IS THE NIGHT (1962). Yet if you look at his sound movies from 1935 on, you will see very little camera movement. Like many of his contemporaries, King set down his camera and let it sit for a while, allowing the movie-goer to make up his mind gradually.
This, however, is a movie of short takes and moving cameras. It might not be apparent to someone familiar with movies shot only in the past twenty years, but watch what happens when Gregory Peck is in the shot: the camera moves like mad to keep him in the frame and you get frequent point of view shots from the character's perspective.
Also watch for the perfectly framed compositions, another hallmark of the directors who started their work in the silent era. A lot of credit, of course, to his regular cameraman, Leonard Shamroy, a great script and marvelous performances.
But that moving camera is not his usual style.
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